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Detecting Prostate Cancer: New PSA Test Goes Pro!

WASHINGTON, D.C (Ivanhoe Newswire) --The PSA test is the only available FDA approved screening method to identify prostate cancer in men. But, the test has been controversial for years because it's not always accurate – causing some men unnecessary biopsies and needless treatment. We'll tell you about a better, more accurate test for prostate cancer.

When Dan Zenka learned he had prostate cancer, his doctor let him know how serious the diagnosis was.

"He indicated that mine was a more aggressive form or appeared to be a more aggressive form of prostate cancer," Dan Zenka, Prostate cancer patient told Ivanhoe.

Dan knows a lot about prostate cancer, he's senior vice president of communications at the Prostate Cancer Foundation. He's well aware that one in six men will be diagnosed with the disease in their lifetime.

“I knew the chances were good that I might be hearing those very words someday myself," Zenka said.

The PSA test is the most common way to screen for prostate cancer. But the test can result in a high number of false positives and false negatives – causing unnecessary treatments and missed diagnoses. Now, urologists say that a new test, called the pro PSA test, better detects aggressive cancer and reduces false positives.

“The pro PSA test is more accurate than anything that is currently available," William Catalona, M.D., a urologist at Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine told Ivanhoe.

PSA or prostate specific antigen is found in the blood. High levels of PSA could indicate prostate cancer. The new test measures a more specific form of PSA in the blood.

"That specifically is a better marker for prostate cancer than the other forms of PSA that have been previously developed," Dr. Catalona said.

The new test measures blood levels of three different types of PSAs. Combined with annual biopsies, or tissue samples, it was about 70 percent accurate in singling out the aggressive tumor. The pro PSA level is turning out to be a more valuable predictor for prostate cancer.

"It can give you a more accurate estimate of whether or not he has prostate cancer, and whether or not the prostate cancer is one of those that would be potentially life threatening," Dr. Catalona added.

The test could mean less unnecessary and painful biopsies, while letting doctors focus more on aggressive forms of the disease. Dan is focusing on his treatment with the help of others.

"There's a great deal of comfort in speaking with other patients understanding that you're not alone," Zenka explained.

Coming together to fight against the disease.

The test is currently being used in clinical trials and is awaiting approval by the U.S Food and Drug Administration. It is already approved for use in Europe. Researchers say the new test will focus on the detection of more life-threatening prostate cancers and reduce unnecessary biopsies in men 50 years of age and older.

The Biophysical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science and View Video or contact:

Marla Paul
Senior Health Sciences Editor
University Relations
Northwestern University

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